In the early 2000s, e-learning was touted as the new great thing that would quickly replace traditional classroom training. Everyone wanted it. Text was quickly being digitized and called e-learning, but for many, it was more of a sleeping pill. Some e-learning conferences seemed to have about the same number of vendors as participants. Its popularity was becoming a fading dream.
Something needed to change. Developers began emphasizing interactivity, a natural for computers. At the same time, the US Department of Defense defined four levels of interactivity and spent more money on the higher, more interactive, levels. That concept became popular. As the field evolved, new concepts like “serious games” and “gamification” were developed for Level 4 and made e-learning more interesting and engaging.
An important strategy developers used to make e-learning more interesting was to create entertaining examples, or case studies, drawn from both real-world and fictional experiences. I have the good fortune to be able develop e-learning products for soft-skills training using virtual role-players. In this capacity, I am able to create fictional characters often struggling with real-world problems. One of my goals is to make the role-players seem as real as a movie character while still allowing the learner to achieve the training objectives.
The role-players immerse learners into our training because we capture the behavior of people in a realistic way. This is accomplished by using dialog or events that evoke emotions. In order to create these emotional experiences, developers draw on their subject matter experts’ experiences, thoughts, and feelings.
I was talking to a friend who, like one of my role-players, was recently divorce. She was saying that she was okay because she had her children and a broad circle of friends. With very little prodding, she then went on to say something like what I had scripted for one of my role-players. Watch a short video of Jennifer in the HIITS training and see what I mean. The emotional content draws the learner into the plot and holds their interest making the learning painless. It’s a real rush for developers to see the E-learning come to life and seem real.
To learn more about creating simulated role-players, visit https://www.simmersion.com/